Friday Flashback: I Made Myself Jump Off The Edge
I am eight years old.
I climb slow up a metal ladder. Kids are laughing around me. Moms are yelling at their kids to stop running. The sun beats down on my face and I’m sweating. I’m scared. I’m scared of falling the huge amount of feet from the high dive into the swimming pool, but I’ve made up my mind. I’m doing it. Today. I’m not waiting another day.
I get to the plank. The texture of the board hurts my feet. I walk slow wondering if I’m doing the right thing. What will happen when I hit the water? What if I’m not strong enough to swim all the way back to the top, and I’d always been scared of running out of air under water. It was how I learned to swim. My teacher held my head under the water so I’d get the point of learning how to keep my mouth closed.
It worked. But ever since, I couldn’t shake the thought that I’d never get back up.
I stand on the plank, my toes curling over the edge. I see the water everywhere around me, just not directly past my round little eight-year-old belly. I think I had short hair back then. My mom cut it that way and curled it every morning right before school.
Last chance, I think. You can still turn around. You might make everyone behind you a little mad, but who cares. They can’t make you. I didn’t look back though. I took a breath. I stepped my sun tanned foot off the edge and I fell in with my arms flying straight up in the air.
I remember the crash. The minute I hit the water and the minute I sank as far as I’d go and paddled and kicked and I fought so hard I saw the top of the water and I broke through it—free.
I did it. I swam to the edge of the pool and I looked back at the ripple in the water.
I guess I’m thinking about a high dive today because it’s become a way I get through tough moments sometimes. Dreams can be scary. You never know when you might see a little bitty light shining through a crack in the door, or the window, or in this case, off a pool of water. Working and trying and deciding it’s worth it, is definitely worth it. So when I’m scared of taking a step out there and risking my heart and my soul in front of others, I remember that high dive. I remember the importance of risk and trust that when I fall, in some way I just know it, I’ll figure it out and I’ll fly.